Petar Kruzic / Krusics Péter (1491-1537)

Our Hero is a Croatian warrior of the Valiant Order, Petar Kruzic aka Krusics Péter. In fact, his Croatian name was Petar Kružić but we, Hungarians, called him Krusics Péter because we fought against the same foe. There are many theories about his birthplace, he is thought to have come from Krug because of his name but others think he was from the village Poljice or from Trsat which is near Fiume (Triest). He was buried in Trsat, though. He was born on 16 October 1491.

He was already serving in Klissza in 1513 and later he was appointed as the Captain of Zengg. First, he shared this post together with Péter Orlovics. Let me remark: it was the custom to appoint two captains in a castle in the Hungarian Kingdom at this time, and seemingly it was the same with Croatia. Hungary and Croatia were in Personal Union between 1102 and 1918, under the crown of the Hungarian monarch. Unluckily, there were two such kings during the Dual Kingship: King Habsburg Ferdinand and King Szapolyai János. A personal union is the combination of two or more states that have the same monarch while their boundaries, laws, and interests remain distinct. 
The Hungarian-Croatian Borderland in the 15th century
After 1523, Krusics became the Captain of Klissza (Klis), too. He and Orlovics attacked and broke the Turks who were besieging Klissza Castle on 10 April 1524, they had 1,500 footmen and 60 riders, mostly Uskoks. Both of them were rewarded by King Lajos (Louis) II with lands for this deed. When Orlovics and King Lajos II fell in the Battle of Mohács (1526), Krusics became the only captain of Klissza. He tried to do his best to defend his castle later as well, he had it reinforced and built towers around it. In answer to this, the Turks built a smaller castle near Salona in order to isolate the fort. During the 1530s, the garrisons of these castles attacked each other quite often. Krusics was able to defend Klissza each time.
A Croatian Hussar (around 1592)
Drawing: Velimir Vuksic

In the time of the Dual Kingship of Hungary, he sided with King Ferdinand but in spite of this, he received military support from King Szapolyai as well. (!) Both rivaling kings supported the keeping of Klissza because it was the southernmost Croatian stronghold, isolated by the Turks. Let me remark: it is extremely interesting because Szapolyai was considered the “ally” of Suleiman. King Ferdinánd appointed Krusics in 1529 as the leader of the Bishopry of Bosnia.


The Turks were getting ready to attack Klissza Castle in the spring of 1537. Krusics attacked them during the night of 11 March with his 1,000 men. He had a personal duel with the leader of the Turks, Agha Atli but he lost and the Turk killed him and cut his head off. However, according to others, he wasn’t killed in a duel but while on the run, trying to stop his fleeing Italian and Austrian soldiers who turned their backs on the Ottomans. There, he was caught on a vessel, and in a fierce fight, he was beheaded. Though the way he died does not diminish his heroism.

Croat Hussar
Drawing: Velimir Vuksic

As a result of his death, and suffering a lack of water supplies, the defenders of Klissza surrendered to the Ottomans in exchange for their freedom. On 12 March 1537, the city and the fortress were released to Turkish control. Many of the citizens left the town while the Uskoci went to the city of Senj, where they continued fighting the Turkish invaders. We can pay tribute before the tombstone of the Captain of Zengg and Klissza at the St Peter Church of Trsat.

Klissza (Klis) castle
(Source: Szibler Gábor and Chris Tian, Wikipedia)

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Krusics defeats the Turkish army, guided by Our Lady of Trsat; Church of Our Lady of Trsat, Rijeka (Fiume), Croatia